Johnsey Cunliffe is a 24 year old socially inept loner who lives at home and is often thought of as a "retard" or "fat eejit". Still grieving for his father when his mother passes away, he's left alone on the family farm with no real idea of what to do or how to cope in the world, his only friends are an elderly couple from the town who knew his parents. Walking home from his job at the Co-op he's often shouted at and pushed around by Eugene Penrose who has bullied him since he was a boy. When Johnsey ends up in hospital he meets fellow patient Mumbly Dave and nurse Siobhan and he continues to see them once he is home.
There's a sense throughout the book that things aren't going to end well for Johnsey and I just wanted to be able to help him, parts of the story are quite upsetting although there are also funny moments. The story is told in the third person and each chapter is a month from a year in the main characters life, we also learn lots about his childhood and things that have happened to him before. It's set during the Celtic Tiger boom years in Ireland when there was rapid economic growth, certainly people's perceptions of Johnsey and the farm are affected because of this.
Donal Ryan's debut novel The Spinning Heart is one of my favourite books of the year so The Thing About December had a lot to live up to. It didn't let me down, the author is a wonderful writer who has managed to fit so much into two relatively short books and is now someone whose new novels I will eagerly await.
I received a copy of this from Netgalley in return for a review
Rating: 5 out of 5